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Identification of Treponema pedis as the predominant Treponema species in porcine skin ulcers by fluorescence in situ hybridization and high-throughput sequencing

Karlsson, Frida, Klitgaard, Kirstine, Jensen, Tim Kåre
Veterinary microbiology 2014 v.171 no.1-2 pp. 122-131
Treponema, animal welfare, bacteria, bacterial infections, ears, fluorescence in situ hybridization, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, microscopy, necrosis, oligonucleotide probes, ribosomal RNA, screening, skin lesions, swine, swine production
Skin lesions often seen in pig production are of great animal welfare concern. To study the potential role of Treponema bacteria in porcine skin ulcers, we investigated the presence and distribution of these organisms in decubital shoulder ulcers (n=51) and ear necroses (n=54) by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and high-throughput sequencing. In addition, two cases of facial ulcers and five cases of other skin ulcers were included in the study. Samples from all 112 skin lesions and intact skin from pigs without skin ulcers (n=14) were screened by FISH. Three different oligonucleotide probes targeting 16S rRNA were used, specific for domain bacterium, Treponema spp. and species T. pedis. Screening showed that two cases each of facial and other ulcers, 35 (69%) of shoulder ulcers and 32 (59%) of ear necroses were positive for Treponema spp. T. pedis was the unequivocally, predominant species typically constituting more than 90% of the treponemes in a lesion, assessed visually by microscopy. Altogether, T. pedis was demonstrated in 69 of the 71 Treponema spp. positive lesions. We conclude that Treponema spp. are frequently present and abundant in various skin ulcers of pigs. The results from this study point toward an important role of T. pedis as a secondary bacterial infection in porcine skin ulcers, especially in severe and chronic lesions.